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Six killed, including gunman, in Denver area shootings

Bouquets of flowers lie on the ground outside a door
Bouquets are left outside the door of a tattoo parlor along South Broadway in Denver on Dec. 28, 2021, after a deadly shooting rampage.
(David Zalubowski / Associated Press)

A gunman who went on a shooting rampage through several business districts in and around Denver was targeting at least some of his victims, authorities said Tuesday.

The shooter in Monday night’s attack killed five people, including one who succumbed to her injuries Tuesday, police said. Authorities identified the person who died as Sarah Steck, a hotel clerk.

The assailant also died Monday after exchanging gunfire with officers in a shopping area in Lakewood, a suburb of Denver, police said.

Matt Clark, commander of the Denver Police Department’s Major Crimes Division, said during a Tuesday news conference that the gunman, Lyndon James McCleod, 47, was on the radar of law enforcement and that he knew some of his victims.

Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen did not say what authorities had investigated McCleod for in the past, but noted no charges were filed.

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The shootings started shortly after 5 p.m. in central Denver along Broadway, a busy street lined with shops, bars and restaurants, where two women were killed and a man was injured, Pazen said. On Tuesday, candles and flowers sat in the doorway of a nearby tattoo shop.

A short time later, a man was fatally shot in another location, Pazen said. Gunshots were also fired along another busy street near Denver Health hospital, but no one was injured.

Later, Denver police chased the vehicle believed to have been involved in the shootings and exchanged gunfire with the person inside, but the motorist was able to get away after “disabling” the police car, Pazen said. The person then fled into Lakewood.

Just before 6 p.m., the Lakewood Police Department received a report of shots fired at a business in the city, said John Romero, a spokesman for that department.

A gunshot victim was later found and pronounced dead at the scene.

The car suspected of being involved was found in Lakewood’s Belmar shopping area by officers. The gunman opened fire and officers shot back. The man ran away and threatened someone in a business with a gun before going into a Hyatt hotel and shooting a clerk, who was taken to the hospital, Romero said.

The gunman also shot and wounded a Lakewood police officer after leaving the hotel, Romero said. Police and the gunman exchanged gunfire, and the man died. It was not immediately clear whether police officers had shot him.

The wounded officer underwent surgery Monday night, and his condition was not immediately known.

“This one individual was responsible for this very violent crime spree that took place this evening,” Pazen said of the gunman.

On Tuesday in the Belmar shopping district, where shops line sidewalks in a modern version of a downtown, plywood covered some of the windows of a wood-fired pizza restaurant where workers were cleaning up inside. Investigators also were checking the aluminum window frame of a store for bullet holes. Nearby on the street, which was decorated with large, silver holiday ornaments, sat an older two-door Honda Civic with a bullet hole through the hood and a flat front tire.

Family members identified one of the victims as Alicia Cardenas, 44, who was killed in the initial shooting.

Cardenas’ father, Alfredo, told KMGH-TV that his only daughter owned her first tattoo shop when she was 19 and had worked in the Broadway location in Denver for 15 to 20 years.

“Very gregarious, very friendly, but she was a very determined person,” he said. “She knew where she was going.”

Cardenas is survived by her 12-year-old, Alfredo Cardenas said.

The other victims have not been identified.

Associated Press photographer David Zalubowski contributed to this report.


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